MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte did not mention federalism and charter change in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Duterte has long been pushing for a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government, believing this would spur countryside development in the Philippines.
The Mindanaoan president has long held that opportunities for progress have been limited due to "imperial Manila."
Three years into his term, however, Duterte changed his tune on federalism and instead said he wants a change in the Constitution.
In a speech during the oath-taking of newly elected local officials and Hugpong ng Pagbabago senators in Malacañang last June, Duterte acknowledged that the shift to federalism was not likely to happen during his administration. His 6-year term will end in mid-2022.
He added, however, that the Constitution should be changed.
"Kaya it’s not for me, in my generation, somebody else’s. But you should change the Constitution actually. Not for anything. If you do not want federalism, fine. But change the Constitution that would really change this nation. Sabihin ko sa inyo," Duterte said last month.
Back in January, the Palace said Duterte was not yet giving up on his push to change the country’s form of government to federalism even after Duterte hinted he might just opt to have the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution amended.
In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved a draft federal charter on third and final reading last December. However, the Senate continued to sit on the measure.
Duterte's economic team, including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, is opposed to the draft federal charter proposed by the Duterte-appointed Consultative Commission, saying the country could not afford such a large bureaucracy.